Posted by: G. Lane Cavalier | May 16, 2007

Networking: Non-Traditional Networking – Part 7

This is Part 7 of a ?? Part Series on Non-Traditional Networking Ideas:

***** Manage Your Network Like a Financial Portfolio ********

Networks need to be treated similarly to your investment portfolio. They need to be evaluated to determine what investments/contacts you want to include, they should be diversified, they should be routinely cleaned of “bad” investments, they should be grown by a slow constant investment, and they should be well documented and watched.

1) Evaluating what investment you want to include: I am an open networker, so I enjoy adding as many people to my network as I can reasonably add value to, but I do tailor the groups I belong to based on the odds of meeting individuals whom have common networking needs. Basically, though I want to help everyone, I realize that I can provide more help to certain individuals. Likewise, I want to continue to make contacts with people who give me the highest return on that investment, so I focus more of my time(investment) on groups that have individuals that most closely align with my needs and interests.

2) Your network should be diversified, this is basically a blend of “Channels” – see Part 5 and “Levels of Networking” – Part 6. If you relate both concepts to the Investment Theory, then you will quickly find that Channels is a direct correlation to Investment Types ( Aggressive Growth, Long-term Growth, etc ). “Levels of Networking” is a great way to align with Investment Amount.

3) The toughest part of networking is that you will realize that there are certain individuals who will never return anything to you or more importantly “your network.” Short of someone “abusing” your network, I’m not an advocate of “cutting someone off,” but it is important to recognize these individuals and act accordingly. Similar to a stock that just doesn’t appreciate in value. If a stock simply maintains its value against inflation and you don’t have a high investment in it, you may want to keep your shares. Similarly, these people may stay in your contact list and when during the course of networking you can help, you do. The biggest concern in this area would be to invest to much into this non-moving investment.

4) Networking should be something that is grown over time. Going to one trade show a year and gathering 50 business cards is not really networking. Networking is the constant and continuous addition of new contacts (assets) to your portfolio. It is often referred to as “networking as a way of life.” You need to make time for your networking activities in a planned and methodical manner.

5) Your network contacts (investments) should be well documented and watched. Similar to having access to you Investment Portfolio through online access, MS Money, Quickbooks, etc. it is important that you have mechanisms to keep track of you Networking Portfolio. These include contact lists (outlook, etc.), a contact maintenance tool (either Plaxo (simple) or a small CRM (complex)). You should have tools to identify new investments (boards, meetings, etc.) and you should have tools that allow you to do research on these potential investments (LinkedIN, JibberJobber, etc)

It is important to note that the idea of Networking as an Investment Portfolio gives you a method of visualizing your network in a more meaningful way., It is equally important to note that there are a number of differences. You are dealing with people, not financial instruments, so there are a number of other variables to factor in.

Go out and network, may you have a high return!! Remember the most basic of concepts: time is your investment, opportunity and satisfaction are your returns. Are you getting the value you deserve from your network?

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